We spent the first part of the 4th of July weekend with family up in Atascadero, Ca and it was beautiful but HOT. The highs were over 100 deg F most days, so most riding was done as early as possible. Saturday morning I was up well before the sun,
to head out on a 108 km loop that had been recommended by Big Blue Toe from bikeforums.net. The route would take me through the ranches and coastal range south of Paso Robles, down to the coast from Cayucos to Morrow Bay, through San Luis Obispo and back up the Cuesta grade to Atascadero. Here is the map and stats:
The first third of this ride through the hills along mostly dirt roads was hands down the most beautiful ride I have ever done along the central coast. I look forward to incorporating it into other loops in the area.
On the stretch between Atascadero and the coast I think I saw no more than ten cars. The time of day may have had somethng to do with it, but I will take it where I can get it. The hills have transitionioned from spring green to summer gold, while the trees are green and thick providing welcome shade in many areas.
Twenty miles of country back roads with fourteen miles of well mainteined gravel made for a wonderful morning of riding. For most of the gravel section there was a creek runnng alongside the road with the occasional mini waterfall
After a few hours I had my first glimpse of the coast and ocean:
It looked like there may be a bit of welcome fog hanging on which would help keep the day’s temperatures in check. The drop down to the coast was incredible, with ony a short climb along Old Creek Road,
and then down hill the rest of the way.
Once on the coast the temp had dropped almost 10 degrees thanks to the sea breeze. Traffic was still light on the Hwy 1 into Morro Bay, you can just see Morro Rock through the fog.
Once in town it was time for a coffee break. I had been on the saddle for a little over four hours at this point. Morro has no shortage of coffe shopes these days. My Aunt nad Uncle have some friends that own the best IMO, Top Dog, and is well worth a stop if you ar pssing along on this stretch of coast.
Keeping a comfortable pace, fat tires and having you bike well set up makes it much easier to smile like this after 4 hours of non stop riding. The 20 minute break was welcome, but I knew I would regret it as the day was heating up. Back on the road I headed out through the state park and estuary to Los Osos..
From there it was hot and uphill for the long ride home through SLO and back up the grade.
Things were heating up incredibly fast and I knew it was going to be a tough hot ride up the Cuesta grade. Once out of SLO the next 5 miles has a gain of almost 1000 feet. The planned route kept me off of the highway shoulder and on the old Stage Coach Rd, with more gravel. At the start of the way out of town spirits were high, and things were looking good.
An hour and 1000 feet later I was still moving, but thiking this was a much better idea on paper.
In 20/20 hind-sight, and post ride review of the map I realised that many of the bike walking sectoins were pushing 20%. This is still very ridable if you have appropriate gearing and the legs for it. I had both, but had not fully planned for the temps creeping closer to 100 deg. Once over the crest the ride was all downhill.
What an incredible day. Things were going very well untill the climb out of SLO. I slipped on my water intake thinking I was “almost there” and paid the price with some serious cramps setting in 5 miles from home. I have been using a watch to remind me to drink a bottle an hour, but should have been drinking a bit more in anticipation of the rising temps. My usual blend of Hammer Nutrition HEED and Perpetuem was not enough this day. Luckily I was able to lounge in the pool and rest through the rehydration phase.
I look forward to rdiding every leg of this loop in different combinations in the future.